Trouble and Transformation

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2 Corinthians 4

There’s one thing all humanity has in common—trouble. Job 5:7 puts it this way: “For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” It’s inescapable this side of heaven, but we don’t have to bitterly resign ourselves to the pain and sorrow of life. Our suffering need not be in vain, because it can “[produce] for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

In this very well-known chapter on affliction, Paul uses contrast to describe his physical, emotional, and spiritual sufferings. For instance, in his body he is carrying about “the dying of Jesus” while at the same time manifesting “the life of Jesus” (v. 10). In other words, the constant dying to self and even persecution were ways in which Jesus Christ’s life was displayed in the apostle’s.

The same is true for every believer. There are two realities at work in our life. The afflictions and trials which are externally visible seem at odds with the good that Christ is doing within us. Yet we are not to lose heart, because “our inner man is being renewed day by day” (v. 16). It’s through our suffering that this transformation becomes most visible to others as they see Christ’s supernatural peace and joy displayed in us.

Are you letting Christ sanctify you through your pain and trouble, or are you hanging on to disappointment, anger, and bitterness? The key to contentment in every situation is a willingness to look below the surface of your pain and see both the good that Christ is working in you and the glory that is guaranteed to follow.

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